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Old 12-31-2010, 10:53 PM
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David LaPell David LaPell is offline
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Default Looking to get into casting, bullet question

I eventually want to get into bullet casting, but I never was able to figure out the formulas for the bullet hardness. I want the bullets I make for my handguns to be fairly hard cast like those for hunting, but what type of lead do I buy, and say I want to use wheelweights, do I need to add anything to those for hardness?
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:04 PM
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I've been casting lead for many decades and I'd suggest getting a good book and learning the principls involved. Then you can make your own judgements and tailor the bullets to your guns and shooting.
Lyman "Cast Bullet Handbook: 3rd Edition" Book - MidwayUSA
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Old 12-31-2010, 11:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by David LaPell View Post
I eventually want to get into bullet casting, but I never was able to figure out the formulas for the bullet hardness. I want the bullets I make for my handguns to be fairly hard cast like those for hunting, but what type of lead do I buy, and say I want to use wheelweights, do I need to add anything to those for hardness?


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Old 01-01-2011, 12:28 AM
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Both the above posts contain good advice. To answer your question directly, you can obtain hardness in the 18-20 BHN range by water dropping bullets cast from straight wheel weight alloy. I have cast many thousand this way. That said, the last time I cast, I added a very small amount of linotype to the wheel weight metal and generally got some much nicer looking bullets. (That would be "boolits" on the other forum. Handgun bullets don't need to be especially hard at normal velocities, say 1200 fps and less. The main cause of leading is bullets that are cast TOO hard, or sized too small. Gas gets around the base of the bullet and the hot gasses melt the lead which deposits on the bore. A proper bullet obturates as it enters the barrel or forcing cone and seals the bore. There are some powders that seem to work better than others. For example, I once tried Tightgroup with 9mm cast boolits. That was a disaster for me. Leading was so bad after 1 magazine full that subsequent rounds were keyholing. Diffferent powder (Clays), same velocity, no appreciable leading after hundreds of rounds. YMMV

Last edited by epj; 01-01-2011 at 12:34 AM.
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:39 AM
2fingers 2fingers is offline
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Mr LaPell, I would try to find a book by Veral Smith called "Jacketed Performance with Cast Bullets" look at go2gbo.com. Veral has 2 threads there and you can find out how to get his book. Everything you need to know about casting bullets and using them to hunt with.
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Old 01-01-2011, 12:42 AM
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I agree with swamprat ! Join us on the Cast Boolits Forum.

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Old 01-01-2011, 01:32 AM
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Default BULLET CASTING

Bullet casting(for the individaul to do so in small volume) is dependant on the cost of the lead used to do so.

We used to use lead wheel weights...they were free or amost so. Now they are expensive if you can get a tire store to SELL them to you.

They used to be about 1% tin and 1% antimony. Now they are made out of zinc(will ruin the casting pot and the molds), steel, and lead that contains CALCIUM...no way to check for that that I am aware of. CALCIUM has the same effect that Zinc does. Calcium is now used to harden the weights like Antimony was.....cheaper...much cheaper! Read "NEW AND IMPROVED" Wheel weights.

The above removes the reason to cast your own... If you value your time..... AND THE COST OF YOUR EQIPMENT....use wheel weights at your own peril! I will not!

Check the price of lead alloy at "Rotometals" to see what the cost of hard cast alloy is........WooooooooooooooooooooHoooooooooooo!

Last edited by pbcaster; 01-01-2011 at 01:51 AM.
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Old 01-01-2011, 01:41 AM
Catshooter Catshooter is offline
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David,

Please do not let pbcaster's post throw you off. It's true that in a lot of areas wheelweights are no longer free, but not all.

It's true that there are zinc wheel weights, but there are also still lead alloy ones to be found. Also the zinc ones melt at a much higher temp so they are easy to sort out when you melt them. It's false that they will ruin a casting pot and mould.

The best advise is to go the the CastBoolits site. There you will learn far more than any book, the data is cutting edge for every aspect of casting. We have killed many sacred cows there.

Welcome to casting! I love it.


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Old 01-01-2011, 07:02 AM
Skip Sackett Skip Sackett is offline
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epj, our very own forum member has written an article on this very subject. I would think his post carries a little weight!

It is true that wheel weights are a bit hard to come by now a days, but they can be had!


I have NEVER had a bullet that was too big EVER lead a barrel no matter how hard it was, NEVER!

There is another forum that is a better help on the subject of cast boolits than the castboolits forum, NRA - IHMSA Handgun, Rifle, Air Pistol Silhouette Shooting. The Excitement Of Reactive Steel Targets At The Los Angeles Silhouette Club

There are three sub-pages to look at: Cast bullet reference on lead alloy's, min / max pressure, lube, shrinkage,
Cast Bullets For Beginner And Expert - Joe Brennan
Glen E. Fryxell, Cast bullets and firearm information and history

The castboolits forum is a GREAT place to gather with other casters, don't get me wrong, I'm a member there. Like here though, opinions can get in the way and make it difficult to weed out the unbiased advice.


Get into casting. Even if it sits on the shelf until you HAVE to have bullets and can't purchase them, know how to do it.

Wheel weights can be shot at as cast sizes and tumble lubed with Lee Liquid Alox or White Label Lube's Liquid Xlox. Water quenching can get the BHN, Brinell Hardness, up into the 30BHN range. Quite hard enough for some rifle work, way hard enough for any pistol work!

I have launched my homecast boolits to 1800fps with no leading sizing to .002" over bore diameter and BHN in the 15 - 18BHN range. Accuracy suffered over 1600fps but no leading. This was achieved with conventional lube from White Label, (BAC or Carnuba Red) or Lyman's Orange, in either the 45Colt Puma or a Marlin 1894 in 44Mag.

The same boolits from handguns are in the 1400fps range and again, no leading. From straight wheel weights to wheel weights with a little Linotype added, to water quenched wheel weights, all with no leading, period.

Now, I have had leading, don't get me wrong. 9mm, never did work that one out! Almost any cast from commercial casters to varying degrees. Simply cast too hard and too small, usually.

There are two hardness testers that are popular. Lee makes one, go to their website, and LBT makes one that seems to be easier to use @ $100.

To avoid what some have mentioned about not being able to guarantee hardness, you can buy a tester, cast some "test boolits" let them sit a day or two and test for hardness. If they are too soft, add tin (from lead free solder) or Linotype (from a scrap yard or metal supplier) or water quench.

Lots of choices and information, Dave. I hope it doesn't overwhelm you. If you get nothing else from the post though, take the exhortation to cast seriously. You won't be disappointed that you did.

If you need more information/help, feel free to PM me. I'll help all I can.

Last edited by Skip Sackett; 01-01-2011 at 07:05 AM.
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Old 01-01-2011, 08:29 AM
Forrest r Forrest r is offline
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I guess I have a different approach to casting bullets. I only time I ever worried about how hard the lead was is when I first started casting. Now I worry if the lead is going to be too hard.

For the last decade Iíve cast with nothing but hill pickings from the backstop of a local range. If I did run across any wheel weights Iíd dilute them with 22ís, round balls & deer slugs that I found. I do water quench my bullets; it seems to help keep the hardness of the more consistent.

I donít drive the cast bullets at break neck speeds, mostly target loads in the 38ís, 45ís, 44 spl & 9mm. I size most of my cast bullets with a .357, .451, .429 & a .356 sizing die. Every now & then Iíll run into a bbl that needs an oversized bullet or it will lead up. I donít like the oversized bullets in the 9mm or the 45acp; I feel theyíre harder on the cases. I try to keep the semi Ėautos under 900fps with fast burning powders. The revolvers I can drive up into the 1200fps range but I prefer to keep them under 1000fps. I donít know in the deeper lands & grooves of the revolver bblís has anything to do with it, but it seems that I can drive them faster without starting to run into leading issues.

The only time I want harder cast bullets is for rifle loads & even then I donít drive them over 1600fps.

After 30+ years of casting/reloading I tend to look at bullets as nothing more than tools and try to use the best tool for the job. For target work thereís nothing better than a swaged or cast lead bullet. Cast bullets rule when it comes to plinking. Iíve used cast bullets for BPís and steal for years. I used to use cast bullets for hunting, now I just buy jacketed bullets designed for the style/type of hunting that I want to do.

Thatís called being lazy, but I get the right bullet for the job, can drive it as fast as I want & get cleaner kills.

Good luck, be safe & enjoy
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Old 01-01-2011, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by smith crazy View Post
epj, our very own forum member has written an article on this very subject. I would think his post carries a little weight!
I dunno if my post carries any weight or not, but if you can lay hands on a copy of the American Handgunner Special edition from last spring/summer, there is an article I wrote that pretty much outlines just what you NEED and what's NICE to have to get started in casting. If not, just go to the cast boolit forum and start asking questions. Anything you need to know can be found there.
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Old 01-01-2011, 02:41 PM
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FWIW Dave, I have linotype and I used to be all concerned about hardness and formulas. I noticed a few of my pure lino bullets shattered or didn't mushroom at all when I used them against things I wanted to penetrate.

After a time I was going 50/50 lino WW and ultimately I just set the lino aside and for the last 10 years or so I've been going straight WW at up to rifle velocity.

Gas checks for anything over 1400fps.

IMO, lube and size are crucial. .001 over bore is the right call and a good lube smokes less and makes your experience better.

I use a Lyman 450 and White Label lube, BAC specifically. They make many varieties and they are less expensive and superior to traditional lubes like Javalina or Lyman.

Use some paraffin in your hot lead every so often for your flux, keep the temp @ 700 to 710 F and you'll never have a problem with zinc.
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